Reporter’s Notebook: The gang’s all there at the mayor’s event

Local lawmakers and members of Mayor Thomas Menino’s cabinet flocked to the Cedars of Lebanon’s hall in Jamaica Plain for a fundraiser last Sunday morning. More than 400 people attended the small-dollar event, one of several neighborhood fundraisers held every year by Menino’s campaign committee.

The mayor didn’t say anything to the crowd about whether or not he’ll be running for a sixth term, although he and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley defended the mayor’s education record. City Councillor At-Large John Connolly, a former teacher who announced last month that he will wage a mayoral campaign, is making his critique of the school system the central plank of his platform.

Conley, a former city councillor who is frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for mayor if Menino chooses not to run, emceed the fundraiser, referring to the longtime mayor as a “second father” and a mentor.

With his wife Angela by his side, Menino received standing ovations when he was introduced and after he finished his speech. He thanked the crowd, saying he was touched by the outpouring of support in the form of prayers and cards while he was in Brigham and Women’s and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital at the end of last year.

“He certainly has the energy and the ability to continue to run our city and run it well,” Conley said after the fundraiser. Asked whether the mayor is running, Conley said, “Who knows?” before adding, “It certainly appears that way. We’re all waiting as a city to know for sure.”

Supporters of the mayor packed the wood-paneled community center, built on a hill near the Brookline-Jamaica Plain line and named for Richard Cardinal Cushing, who served as archbishop of Boston for 26 years. Some stood in line – 40 to 50 people deep at several points during the fundraiser – to shake Menino’s hand and chat with him before and after the speaking program, while others noshed on waffles, quiche, and strips of bacon.

Some wore vintage buttons from Menino’s previous campaigns for mayor and City Council. One attendee, using an anonymous handle, noted Conley and Menino’s remarks and posted a picture of the fundraiser on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The roster of local elected officials who attended the Jamaica Plain fundraiser included state Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Jamaica Plain), Angelo Scaccia (D-Hyde Park) and Ed Coppinger (D-West Roxbury). Stephen Murphy, Ayanna Pressley, Felix Arroyo, Rob Consalvo, Michael Ross, and Matt O’Malley were among the city councillors who attended.

Top Menino aides were also in the room, including Michael Kineavy and the mayor’s chief-of-staff, Mitchell Weiss. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and School Committee member Alfreda Harris also attended.

Councillor Connolly has a campaign kickoff scheduled for next week, at the Omni Parker House Hotel on Wednesday, (March 20) at 6:30 p.m.

A Charlestown attorney who has served as Councillor Connolly’s chief strategist will be taking on the role of campaign manager of Connolly’s mayoral bid, the campaign said Monday. Nathaniel Stinnett, 37, has worked on a number of campaigns, including as treasurer for Attorney General Martha Coakley’s run for US Senate and as finance director of Jamie Eldridge’s runs for Congress and state Senate.

Stinnett, a former Democratic State Committee member, has taught Adult Basic Education and English for Speakers of Other Languages at Pine Street Inn. He has served as Connolly’s chief strategist since 2008.

Dahill hires Spencer as campaign consultant

Maureen Dahill, one of the two South Boston-based candidates running for state Senate, has hired a longtime campaign strategist as a consultant. Jim Spencer, who worked as chief strategist on former City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon’s mayoral campaign in 2009, is the president of the Campaign Network, a firm specializing in direct mail.

Spencer, a Midwest native and former political director for Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, was Mel King’s field director in 1983 when King ran for mayor, a past consultant for Felix D. Arroyo’s run for at-large, and the consultant to City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley’s 2011 reelection campaign. He worked on former City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty’s unsuccessful mayoral campaign in 2009 after Yoon did not make it past the primary.

Dahill, a South Boston native and local entrepreneur, is running as a Democrat to fill the vacant seat in the First Suffolk Senate District. The seat opened up after Jack Hart, who was elected in 2002, left for a job at a law firm.

State Reps. Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) and Nick Collins (D-South Boston) and Joseph Ureneck (R-Dorchester) are also running.

The primary election is set for April 30 and the special election is scheduled for May 28.

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